At 60, Jaynemary Musyoka decided to follow her heart's desire – crocheting.
"For as long as I can remember, I have always had knitting needles, threads, wool and other material I would use to make whatever my mind fancied," says Jaynemary.
Trained in food production and having ran a restaurant in Thika for 11 years, her work did not seem to give her the satisfaction she craved.
"For over a decade, I diligently supplied breakfast, lunch and cakes for all occasions to my customers but deep down, my heart yearned for more," confesses the mother of three. "I enjoyed my time in catering but always knew it wasn't my destination."
"I remember back in the 80s and 90s, it was fashionable to adorn the house with tablecloths. The sofas and tables were usually adorned in a variety of tablecloths, including woolen ones. Today they are rarely used unless perhaps in the village where they are still deemed fashionable. They looked really beautiful though they have been overtaken by the times," reminisces Jaynemary.
Inspired by her love for art, she started stitching table clothes. Today she makes beautiful cross stitch floor rugs - her flagship product - woollen dolls and toys and has recently added scarves, bedcovers and wall hangings to her list.
She makes the wall hangings from special thread called anchor/Dmc used for making flowers on tablecloths while for the floor rugs, she uses wool and special needles that are available locally.
Jaynemary is self-taught and does her research mostly online.
"I can spend hours on the Internet in search of the latest woollen designs. There is so much to explore online and I get so many different patterns for my crocheting. I'm literally spoilt for choice and my clients are happy I'm able to introduce new designs to them," explains Jaynemary.
Switching from catering to crocheting came with its own unique setbacks, especially societal expectations.
"However, I would like to tell the women out there that it is okay to dream again. It is okay to make an about turn. Do not let society or age confine you to a box. You need to know who you are and your capacity so that no one can kill your dreams. Be brave enough to explore your artistic side. We should never stop dreaming and hoping and should always endevour to be better versions of ourselves. Do what makes you happy," she advises.
Every venture has its challenges and that is not new to Jaynemary either.
"My biggest challenge is sourcing for the wool I require for crocheting. Sometimes a client will want an item in a particular colour, which is not available in the market. Unfortunately, most times the shop owners are not sure when they will get new stock and this leaves me stranded. In a bid not to lose my clients, I at times have to persuade them to take another shade of colour that is available," explains Jaynemary.
Jaynemary says that when she is short of wool and it is unavailable in the market, she ends up having more than a dozen unfinished items.
"The storekeeper will keep promising they will bring the wool you want in their next batch and this waiting can go on for quite a long time. As I wait for them to deliver, I usually embark on another item," she says.
How does Jaynemary reach out to her clients? "I have been lucky to do a large portion of my sales through referrals from friends and via word of mouth," she points out.
She also markets via Facebook and a WhatsApp group, and delivers orders using local courier services with a client base reaching as far as Mombasa, Eldoret and Kisumu.
"My future plans include expansion of my business where I can offer employment to both the young and the old. My first priority, however, would be the less fortunate members of our society," she says. "My heart goes out to them and I would like to see a society where they too get equal opportunities."
"I would like to let other women know that it is never too late to pursue the desires of your heart. Do not let society tell you what you can or cannot do. It's not about one's age but one's interests. The clock is ticking, yes but do not give up on your dreams so use that time to do what pleases you," advises Jaynemary. "You might fall down more than once but pull yourself together and keep walking with your head high. In the end you will make it if you keep moving," she says.
Jaynemary’s tips for success
1. Never give up even when it is pitch dark and there’s no sign of light anywhere. Trust that tomorrow will be better.
2. Turn every mistake into a lesson and advice to someone else. Don’t allow your past mistakes to define who you are.
3. It’s never too late to follow your dreams and passions. Start where you are.
4. Do not judge people at face value. The ones you despise today might be the ones you need to open doors tomorrow. Don’t burn bridges.
5. Pray and trust God as His timing is always the best.